American officials are denying that the U.S. paid ransom money to free hostages in Iran in January, insisting that the simultaneous cash transfer was coincidental, but not everyone is buying it.
The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million to Iran in January simultaneously with the release of American hostages, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed on Wednesday.
The WSJ expose relied on information from American and European officials and U.S. congressional staff who were reportedly briefed on the operation.
“Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland,” WSJ reported.
According to the report, the funds were meant as the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement made by the Obama administration with Tehran to resolve a dispute over a failed arms deal signed with Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The settlement, the report continues, “also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.”
“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17 — without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby, among other senior U.S. officials, deny any link between the cash transfer and the prisoner release. “As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim…were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home. Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years,” Kirby said.
Putting American lives at risk
Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and a fierce foe of the Iran nuclear deal, accused President Barack Obama of paying “a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages.”
“This break with longstanding U.S. policy [not to] put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” of Americans, he said.
“The logistics of this payment — literally delivering a plane full of cash to evade U.S. law — shows yet again the extraordinary lengths the Obama administration will go to accommodate Iran, all while hiding the facts from Congress and the American people,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., declared. “Hundreds of millions in the pockets of a terrorist regime means a more dangerous region, period. And paying ransom only puts more American lives in jeopardy.”
According to WSJ, since January, two more Iranian-Americans have been arrested, along with the detaining of dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K.
By: World Israel News Staff